What’s the first thing that pops into your mind when you see the swoosh – Nike, the bullseye – Target, the golden arches – McDonalds… the Leaf Man - Cleveland Metroparks, of course.
You know, Cleveland Metroparks well-recognized logo – that we at the Park District fondly call, the Leaf Man.
You may think Cleveland Metroparks logo is as old as the dirt/earth it represents. But, surprisingly, you would be wrong.
In 1975 the powers that be, namely Cleveland Metropolitan Park District’s then-new director, Harold Schick and the 1975 Board of Park Commissioners decided it was time for a facelift.
It started because the formal name, Cleveland Metropolitan Park District was virtually unused – probably because it was way too long! And who can spell Metropolitan without using Google. It was also the era when the world started using symbols to flash their messages to the public and the Greater Cleveland parks didn’t have a symbol or even a consistent collection of signs.
The Park Board described the need for a new identity in their March 1975 press release with their now out-dated, and oh so not politically correct analogy: “Like a hard-working mother and wife who never gets out of the kitchen, the Metropolitan Parks were taken for granted. Their identity was slipping away.”
So the search was on for a new name and a logo. Pitt Studios, a graphics design firm with headquarters in Cleveland, was tasked with giving 13 separate sites (or should they be called parks? reservations?) a new and pleasant identity.
Hundreds of logos were designed. Weeding out every unproductive element, every extraneous line led to the clean, direct design we now recognize as the Cleveland Metroparks logo.
No time was lost in building new signs with the new symbol. The logo was also added to communications, vehicles, advertising and rangers’ shoulder patches.
Upon its introduction, the public was asked what the new logo said to them.
Here’s what the 1975 Cleveland population had to say.
• A carefree person and a leaf (maybe that’s where we got Leaf Man)
• A tree
• A sun
• An encircling ring of parks.
Now almost 40 years later, the well-known Cleveland Metroparks logo is on everything from apparel and coffee mugs to vehicles, flags and buildings. And would the Pitt Studios graphic designers ever imagined that their logo would have ended up as a tattoo?
So, what does the logo say to you?
Editors Note: Though until 1975 there was no official Cleveland Metropolitan Park District logo, Tammy Chipmunk was commonly used. Tammy, illustrated by naturalist/artist Fritzi Klopfenstein, first made his appearance in the Emerald Necklace newsletter in 1952. (Yes, it’s a he. Tammy comes from the chipmunks’ scientific name: Tamias)
Masthead of 1958 Emerald Necklace
Tammy's column in the Emerald Necklace